Margaret Friedenauer took the majority of votes in the race for Haines Borough Assembly on Tuesday while Jerry Lapp and Tresham Gregg are tied at 411 votes each. There are still more absentee and questioned ballots to count, however, so the race for the second seat is still going.
With most of the votes counted, Friedenauer was the clear winner Tuesday, securing a seat on the Haines Borough Assembly with 629 votes. On the phone just minutes after the results were announced, Friedenauer was excited and grateful. She said, now the real work begins.
“I guess I just want to make people proud – that’s a lot of votes, that’s a lot of support so it’s a little nerve-racking,” she said. “I want to remember that I represent people who didn’t vote for me, too and those people I don’t always see eye to eye with so I think I’m going to make that my challenge.”
In the race for second place, Lapp and Gregg remain deadlocked at 411 votes each. There are still a maximum of 34 additional votes that could be counted. I’m going to say that again: There are still 34 additional votes that could be counted. If some don’t come back to the borough, there will be less than 34. Those include questioned ballots and absentee votes expected by fax and mail. According to Haines Borough Clerk Julie Cozzi, nine ballots have not been returned that were mailed out.
Lapp said shortly after the results were announced that he expected a close race. He said that if he gets a seat on the assembly, the minor offenses ordinance will be one issue he’d like to address.
“One of them, yeah, we’ll get that minor offenses ordinance cleaned up, that’ll be the biggy,” Lapp said.
Friedenauer agreed that the ordinance, which has now prompted locals to circulate a petition asking the assembly to reconsider their vote, needs work. But she said, it’s just one of the big local concerns that she’s looking forward to tackling.
“I suppose the boat harbor will need to be dealt with, but that might be dealt with before we even get on the assembly, but minor offenses because that’s what people are talking about,” she said. “I want to dig into that because that’s what people are calling for.”
Results in Haines were delayed when a card used in the voting machine wouldn’t print the results. A backup card was used, which meant that election officials had to feed ballots back into the machine to get the total and then the printout. All the tallies matched up and after the second card was used, all went smoothly, according to Cozzi. The delay came when the 570 ballots had to be reentered into the machine.
The two seats opening up are currently occupied by Joanne Waterman and Dave Berry Jr. Each seat has a three-year term.
This will be Friedenauer’s first stab as an elected official.
“It’s my first election for anything since seventh grade student council, so of course I’m surprised,” she laughed. “I was getting a lot of support, but you don’t always run into the people who say “Sorry, I’m not voting for you.” Yeah, I’m surprised. I went up against a guy who has served a long time on the assembly and I went up against somebody who has lived here their whole life and I’m just really honored.”
Like Lapp, Gregg expected the race to be close. He said Wednesday that being an artist has given him the ability to be patient and roll with whatever comes.
“When you’re an artist you actually live in a world of relative uncertainty,” Gregg said. “You don’t really expect anything at all, you know, you hope that the desired result will be achieved but expecting it is always difficult because then you’re up for disappointment.”
Gregg said public input and community participation when it comes to the town’s big issues is a priority. He thanked the voters and his opponents and said he’s looking forward to the chance at making Haines a better place to live.
“Well, I’m kind of excited about ways to make the economics of Haines more viable for those of us who live here and trying to make our living here in Haines.”
In the uncontested run for Haines School Board newcomer Inez Gross collected the most votes with 651. Mike Wilson was second with 578 and Sara Chapel picked up 558. There were 22 write-in votes.
For assembly members, election canvas will happen on Oct. 13, with certification and the swearing in of new members on Oct. 27. Absentee ballots postmarked Oct. 6 or earlier and received by Tuesday will need to be added to the count.
Outside the polling location at the Chilkat Center, voters were steadfast in the quest to choose a candidate that would find the balance between leading and listening.
Angie Pappas said after she cast her vote that she’s hoping new faces on the assembly will bring new ideas.
“A lot of people are so dissatisfied with the way so many things have been going that I think a lot of people are hoping that this vote might change, maybe skew, attitudes a little bit,” she said.
A common thread among the voters was concerns over the minor offenses ordinance, the boat harbor expansion and another recent issue that has the raised the hackles of many around town.
“Another issue that’s important with me is what’s going to happen with HARK and animal control,” Podsiki said. “I’ve been in this town for 35 years and I know just how many animals will be wandering the streets if HARK is not here to help us. We have come so far in just a few number of years because of HARK.”
That’s Greg Podsiki. He said that no matter how well he knows a candidate, this is a small town after all, he listens to the candidates’ views and ideas carefully before choosing who will represent him.
“I never have my mind made up until I see what people want. It doesn’t matter if they’re a friend of mine or not a friend of mine, I vote for the person who I think is going to do a better job.”
This year, voter turnout was around 36 percent in Haines. The unofficial number of total voters is 813 out of 2228 registered.
All election results are unofficial until they certified later this month.